House votes to cap film incentives at $45 million

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The Roundhouse in Santa Fe (Photo by Peter St. Cyr)

After hours of contentious debate, the House approved legislation this evening that would cap payouts under the state’s film incentive program at $45 million annually.

The vote was 53-17 in favor of the bill.

House Bill 607, sponsored by Speaker Ben Luján, D-Nambe, now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Much of the debate on the House floor centered around a proposed amendment from Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, that would have raised the annual cap to $60 million. Egolf said a $45 million cap would be a “death sentence” for the industry.

After that amendment failed on a vote of 33-36, Egolf proposed a doomed amendment to impose a $45 million annual cap on incentives to the oil and gas industry.

“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” Egolf said.

That amendment failed on a vote of 28-40.

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Another amendment from Al Park, D-Las Cruces, would have delayed imposing a cap on the incentives for a year so the state could conduct a study to determine the effectiveness of the incentives. A bill that would fund such a study, Senate Bill 44, has already passed the Senate and is awaiting consideration by the House.

But that amendment failed on a vote of 28-41.

Luján stressed repeatedly that there were things about his compromise bill he didn’t like, but also things about it the other side didn’t like.

Update, 7:20 p.m.

“The limit on the film tax credit just passed the house,” Park just tweeted. “I’m very worried this may spell the end of the film industry in New Mexico.”

Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, urged lawmakers to raise the cap to $60 million.

“Moving the cap from $45 million to $60 million would return stability to the market and send a strong message that New Mexico is truly open for business,” he said.

3 thoughts on “House votes to cap film incentives at $45 million

  1. “Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, urged lawmakers to raise the cap to $60 million.

    “Moving the cap from $45 million to $60 million would return stability to the market and send a strong message that New Mexico is truly open for business,” he said.”

    We don’t want send a strong message that New Mexico is truly open for UNVERIFIABLE ROI business. There are two studies floating through the hallowed halls of the Legislature that refute each others’ findings. So what is it? Is the film tax incentive a good investment for New Mexico taxpayers, or a bad investment? One study says we are making a good return on our tax credits – the other says we are losing money on every tax credit dollar.

    Generally, my economics sense is that the whole program is a race to the bottom as Hollywood producers pit one state against each other for the most favorable terms. Wisconsin is offering 40 percent tax credits – can you top that New Mexico? C’mon, make me an offer. My concern is that the program puts us in an auction situation and may ultimately be a loser for the state.

  2. i love how the chair of the democratic party, who I understand is a principal in a movie studio near santa fe, threw a plug for the film industry tax credit on facebook. Given that he normally writes in his capacity as Chair, this was a blatant crossing of ethical lines. When will politicians understand that we are sick and tired of conflict of interest? Its time for the dems to dump this political retread (Gonzales) who’s so symptomatic of whats wrong with New Mexico politics. By the way, there are plenty of Republicans who cross the same ethical boundary of using their office to help out their checkbooks and vocational industries..just look at Bratton and the oil boys in the legislature. Its time for them all to go, starting with Gonzales as Dem Party Chair!